Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Trading Smarm for a Car

We are car shopping. I suppose if we could actually afford a nice car and it could be any kind of car we wanted it might be kind of fun, but as it stands, we have a very limited option. Ideally, we need a vehicle that can be towed 4-wheels down behind the bus with a tow bar instead of a dolly, one that will seat 6 passengers, an upright bass, banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, sound system, and be lightweight.

No really. That's not asking too much, right?

In truth, our deceased minivan could do all of that if we packed very carefully, but it had to have a dolly, since it was a front-wheel drive automatic transmission. The dolly broke our first 3 days on the road. I don't want another dolly.

Then there is the issue of money. Car dealerships expect it, but we ain't got it. At least not as much as they will ask, and they don't believe us. They never do.

There is a reason used car salesmen get a bad reputation. Usually it isn't the salesmen, however, it's the "managers". After having a fairly disinterested lady "help" us at our first stop, she talked to the manager to see if they had anything else. He came to talk to us, (or is it smarm his smarminess at us?) pulled out the way cool, hip talk, ask if we would close a deal if he could get us the perfect car today, (what? you have a 2012 Honda Odyssey on the lot for $5??? Yes!), then said he'd be right back, *winked* at us, and left us sitting there without pointing us to the showers where we could scrub off the smarm. 

The next stop, (since the $5 Odyssey didn't surface), we saw a Suzuki XL with 3rd row seating, but it was likely not big enough, and it was a 2-wheel drive automatic, and only the 4x4 Suzuki XL7s can be towed without modification. We mentioned this, and it was mentioned to - you guessed it - the manager. He told us he is pretty sure you can tow it 4-wheels down. We told him we would not be getting it unless he could prove it could because we're pretty sure it can't, and pretty sure we don't feel like destroying a transmission on his pretty sure. Michael already researched which of the few automatics can, and which require a costly and possibly unreliable pump system installed. Same thing happened at a Kia location yesterday. Manager says he's pretty sure this 2-wheel drive automatic Kia can be towed 4-wheels down. Doesn't matter what car, they'll be "pretty sure" it can be towed. It could have "DO NOT TOW" written in red across the front and they'd still think it could if we needed one that could.

We considered going to Rocky's Autos after that, but I couldn't stomach any further used car salesman psychological ploys, and Rocky's brings out the best. If you so much as glance at any car in the lot, they drive it into their special "SOLD" location, start talking as though it's already yours, give your kids a hat, offer you a pop, go talk to the manager, come back for your "no way", wink, smile, go back to the manager, and if you still are not satisfied, bring that manager down with his hypnotizing charisma, as he uses your first name multiple times, promises to throw in the moon on the whole deal, and leaves you pleading for a pen to sign anywhere if they'll please let you and your sugared up, highly bored children out of the tiny box they stuck you in for the last 3 hours.

Lord, provide me with Your divine grace to not strangle the next manager who winks at me. I may not have the strength on my own. 

Oh, and Lord, please find us the right car, too. One we are more than pretty sure will meet our needs.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hospitality and a Trip Well Done

Well, now. That was quite an ordeal. Honestly, when I first realized what we were up against, the near complete removal of the bus floor, I was nearly in despair. How??? We live in this bus. There is no home we own to head back to, where there are warm beds, a place to fix meals, and a garage full of needed tools. After a short panic, I dropped a facebook note to our dear friends, whom we would be seeing shortly as we headed through Kansas before we arrived in Colorado. They welcomed us wholeheartedly, knowing it meant disrupting their routine for at least a week during an otherwise very inconvenient time.

I have never been so blessed by the warm hospitality of friends as I have been in the last 5+ months. Perhaps this is a surprise because hospitality is simply not my talent. Ok, I admit it. I flat out stink at hospitality and always have. I do like it when I have short visits with good friends. I enjoy cleaning the place up a bit and having nice conversation, but to host people in my home for any length of time gets me far out of my comfort zone. So when we arrive at the homes of others with everything from a broken toilet, a child in need of a birthday, a ride to find banjo picks, to a tail light that needs a rewire, I always feel a bit guilty from the start, because I am not sure if I would have been able to pull off so much joy in all of that myself. Yet time and again, God places just the right people in our path at just the right moment. I am blessed and humbled at the same time.

This job was HUGE, and because of this, God placed us into very special hands. Kevin and Anita let us into their home - again, at a less-than-ideal time for them all, allowed us to fill their library and garage with our beds, clothing, books, dishes, and everything we own, fed us, lined up a couple nice churches where we could play during our stay, laughed with us, and shared their beautiful home.
The kids hardly noticed the disruption. In fact, they thought they were vacationing at one of the best stops yet. Especially Sean, who caught 8 fish from their lovely pond for a fish dinner, played with water balloons, drove their little motorized 4 wheeler, launched potatoes from a rocket, and went to a local baseball game and helped out with the concession stand.

Most importantly, he turned TWELVE! The last dozen years have been quite a ride!

So, here we now sit, back where we started in Northern Colorado. I don't know yet if it's good to be home, because in so many ways, though Colorado is familiar, we don't have roots here any longer. It's an odd feeling, really, but worth it. What a wonderful ride it's been since we left in December!

Though I am looking forward to our up coming shows, especially our Streetmosphere programs in Fort Collins, always my favorite, today I found myself already plotting our route and stopping points for our trip up to Minnesota in July. We do need to book our stay and plan our route, but I really must remember to pay attention to the here and now. There is a lot to do in the next 4 weeks. We'll need to complete our project on the floor, (the bus is back together again, but on a metal floor with only insulation under the benches and cabinets, awaiting a final main flooring for the exposed areas once we decide on the best type), and Lord willing, purchase a vehicle. A graduation party for a couple of twin ladies may also be in order, promotional packets to mail, and people we will want to catch up with.

I'll end with a pile of pictures from our weekend at Silver Dollar City. I finally had a moment free to pull them off of my camera, and to grab a few from some kind photographers who shared some online.